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Displaying items by tag: Rescue 116

In the absence of this year’s Bray Air Display due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 conducted a special fly-past to pay tribute to Ireland’s frontline healthcare workers.

The Sikorsky S92 helicopter took to the skies over the Co Wicklow town at 3pm yesterday, Saturday 25 July, on the same afternoon it flew to the rescue of a family of four stranded by the tide at Sandymount.

Rob Tatten, general operations manager of CHC Ireland, which operates the coastguard’s SAR helicopter service, was in attendance to make small presentation to Mr Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, and spoke before the event.

He said: “CHC, who operates the helicopter search and rescue contract on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard, has been taking part in the Bray Air Display every year. However due to the pandemic that wasn’t possible this year.

“But with the organisers of the show we said could we do something to recognise the phenomenal work of our fellow frontline healthcare workers, who like us continue to work 24/7, 365 days a year.

“So today, Rescue 116, while out training, will do a fly-past to thank those workers while we also make a short presentation to Paul Reid and other frontline workers to say thank you on behalf of CHC, the Irish Coast Guard, the aviation community and Bray Air Display.”

Published in Coastguard

The Irish Coast Guard’s Dun Laoghaire unit launched to the rescue of a family of four cut off by the tide on Sandymount yesterday afternoon, Saturday 25 July.

Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard were tasked to incident along with the local RNLI’s inshore lifeboat and the Dublin-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 116.

The two adults and two children were retrieved from their sandbank by the helicopter crew, who landed them at a safe spot on land where they wiremen by a coastguard team. All were found to be in good spirts.

Emergency services remind the public if you see anyone in difficulty in or near the water to dial 112/999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Coastguard

Vertical Magazine has shared video of a roundtable discussion on helicopter rescues from earlier this year, featuring a member of the Rescue 116 crew with the Irish Coast Guard.

Helicopter winchman Derek Everitt was in attendance at the HAI Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California this past January, where he took part in a talk with fellow professionals about their ‘life on the wire’.

He was joined by Montana-based air rescue specialist Wil Milam, fire rescue pilot Tony Webber, Canadian rescuer Rob Munday, Las Vegas police flight instructor Dave Callen and hoist operator and paramedic Jason Connell.

The wide-ranging discussion, which can be seen in the video above, included their most memorable rescues — and some of the biggest mistakes they’ve learned from.

For Everitt, his most memorable “screw-up” was as young crewman with the Air Corps involved an unplanned landing at a mountain crossroads for his pilot to impress a high-ranking friend — with embarrassing results.

Vertical has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

Air navigation services run by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have not been adequately resourced and were still suffering from staffing shortages for at least two years after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash, The Sunday Independent reports.

A review for the Department of Transport also calls for a "just culture body" which is "robust" to be implemented as soon as possible to protect pilots and other crew members who make confidential reports on safety concerns.

And it criticises delays in separating the State aviation authority's conflicting functions of safety regulation and commercial operations.

The lack of accurate air navigation charts available to Irish Coast Guard helicopter search and rescue crews was one of the key issues highlighted after the Rescue 116 crash which claimed the lives of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith off north Co Mayo on March 14, 2017.

The final report into the crash has still not been published as an unidentified stakeholder has been granted a review of the final draft report by Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

In late 2017, the IAA had invited search and rescue and other pilots to help correct aeronautical charts after it conceded charts published three months after the crash were inaccurate, with lighthouses in wrong locations and obscure symbols.

Although the IAA is responsible for providing aeronautical charts under State safety plans, it has said it does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness and disclaims all liability.

The review of the IAA technical and safety performance by Helios and Egis Avia consultants during the second and third quarters of 2019 found the IAA air navigation division staff were having to work "extended hours", as posts could not be filled after one inspector left and one took maternity leave.

The "slow pace" of separating safety regulation from money-making commercial activities within the IAA and the potential workload increase for IAA staff as a result of Brexit are other issues flagged in the review.

For more, read The Sunday Independent report here

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard has issued a statement marking three years since the loss of four crew of the helicopter Rescue 116 off Co Mayo.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, and winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith died when their Sikorsky S-92 hit Blackrock island off north Mayo in the early hours of 14 March 2017. The bodies of Ormsby and Smith have not been found to date.

The coastguard said: “As our frontline and emergency service workers yet again distinguish themselves during this current crisis, we remember Dara, Mark, Paul and Ciarán who we lost three years ago today. Four of Ireland’s finest stepped out into the darkness to come to the aid of strangers.

“Two brave souls were brought home, two remain lost to the sea, but all four will be forever remembered for the sacrifice they made. Our thoughts today are with the families, friends and colleagues of Dara, Mark, Paul and Ciarán.

“Go Mairidís Beo.”

Last night, Belfast Coastguard paid respects to their colleagues in the Republic, stating: “Three years on the sense of loss and disbelief is still very much real for us all. Tonight especially, we remember the crew and their families.”

And in a touching tribute following a tidal cutoff rescue yesterday (Friday 13 March), the crew of the helicopter now using the Rescue 116 callsign left a special signature of a heart in the sky to remember those lost.

Afloat.ie reported on Thursday (12 March) that a senior counsel has been appointed to chair a review into aspects of the State investigator’s final report on the 2017 helicopter crash.

Published in Coastguard

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association has said the Government’s establishment of a review board into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash draft final report is in conflict with international safety standards writes Lorna Siggins

The pilots’ union was responding to Wednesday’s announcement by Minister for Transport Shane Ross that he was appointing senior counsel Patrick McCann to chair the review of the draft final report.

The draft has been completed and was circulated last autumn to interested parties, including families of the four crew who died - Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, and winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith.

A 60-day period was given for submissions. However, the report has not yet been published by Ireland’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), due to an application in January for a review of certain findings. An interim statement was issued by the AAIU this week in the lead up to the third anniversary of the crash ( March 14).

The four air/sea rescue helicopter crew were providing “top cover” communication for the medical evacuation of a crewman from a British-registered fishing vessel when their Sikorsky S-92 hit Blackrock island off north Mayo in the early hours of March 14, 2017.

The bodies of the helicopter’s two winch crew have not been found to date in spite of extensive searches supported by the Irish fishing fleet.

IALPA president Capt Evan Cullen has expressed concern over the ongoing delay in publishing the final report.

“Ireland has an obligation to publish the final version of an accident investigation report as quickly as possible to ensure that safety recommendations, potentially applicable to search and rescue operations worldwide, are implemented at the earliest possible opportunity,” Capt Cullen said.

Cap Cullen said that in IALPA’s view, the review “does not comply with the standards and recommended practices laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)”.

“Annex 13 of ICAO sets out how states should investigate or delegate the investigation of accidents which have occurred in their territory,” he said.

“For a country to take the unusual step of deviating from ICAO practice, it must file a difference to the ICAO standards and we do not believe Ireland has taken this step,” he said.

“It is fundamental that adherence to international obligations regarding aviation safety recommendations should transcend stakeholder concerns over reputation. Prevention of any future accidents demands no less,” he added.

The Department of Transport said it "wholly rejects" the IALPA claim and said there was "nothing in Annexe 13 of the ICAO regulations " that obliged it to file a difference. A spokeswoman for the department said the AAIU chief inspector also concurred with its position.

Under Ireland’s Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents, Serious Incidents and Incidents) Regulations 2009, an “interested party” may serve on the minister written “notice of re-examination”.

This is “in respect of findings and conclusions that appear to reflect adversely on the person’s reputation”.

CHC Ireland, which employed the four aircrew, has declined to say whether it sought the review.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

Almost three years after four Irish Coast Guard aircrew lost their lives in a helicopter crash off the north Mayo coast, a senior counsel has been appointed to chair a review into aspects of the State investigator's final report writes Lorna Siggins

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has appointed senior counsel Patrick McCann to chair the review of the draft final report which has not yet been published by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU).

Mr McCann will be assisted by an “independent expert member”, Mr Ross said on Wednesday in a statement announcing the establishment of the review board – two months after it was first sought.

Mr Ross said that the review board would “re-examine certain findings of the draft final report”.

Mr Ross’s department had confirmed back in early January that a review had been requested by a “stakeholder”, which it would not identify.

It said then that “arrangements are being put in place” to set this board up, and confirmed the review would be held in private.

CHC Ireland, which employed the four air crew who died – Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, and winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith - declined to say whether it sought the review.

The four air/sea rescue helicopter crew died when their Sikorsky S-92 hit Blackrock island off north Mayo in the early hours of March 14, 2017. The bodies of Ormsby and Smith have not been found to date.

Under the Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents, Serious Incidents and Incidents) Regulations 2009, an “interested party” may serve on the minister written “notice of re-examination”.

This is “in respect of findings and conclusions that appear to reflect adversely on the person’s reputation”.

CHC Ireland holds the ten-year Irish Coast Guard search and rescue contract, which is worth €50m a year and is due to expire in 2022, though an extension could be allowed to 2025. Work has already begun on preparing a new tender.

The AAIU ruled out mechanical failure early on in its preliminary report into the crash, and an interim report was published a year after the crash. An interim statement was published on March 1st, 2019.

The AAIU has already identified in its preliminary report that the Dublin-based crew were flying with inaccurate chart information and faulty installation of satellite locators in the pilots’ lifejackets.

Rescue 116 had been tasked on the night of March 13th 2017 to provide “top cover” support to the Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter for a medical evacuation off the west coast. It was approaching Blacksod lighthouse to refuel when it collided with Blackrock island nine nautical miles to the west.

The AAIU’s draft final report was issued on September 13th, 2019 to “interested parties”, including the four bereaved families and CHC Ireland. The parties were given 60 days to review this report and offer comments.

“The review board will be chaired by senior counsel Patrick McCann who will be assisted by an independent expert member. The review board will be entirely independent in its work in accordance with the relevant legislation,” Mr Ross’s statement said.

The AAIU said last January that it would continue to handle submissions in relation to the draft conclusions.

The review board’s chair must be a barrister or solicitor of 10 years’ standing, or a person who, in the minister’s opinion, has “aeronautical or engineering knowledge”.

The Minister may also appoint one or more technical assessors. A report is compiled for the minister if the re-examination proceeds.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

Following January’s film on Ireland’s offshore fishing industry, the latest episode of TG4 documentary series Tabú reaches into the heart and soul of the Irish Coast Guard — as told by the coastguard members in their own words.

In the aftermath of the loss of Rescue 116 and volunteer Caitríona Lucas, An Garda Cósta - Ár n-Insint Féin, which screens this coming Wednesday 4 March, explores how they continue to serve in spite of the tragedies.

Focusing on operations after the biggest tragedy that has happened to any Blue Light service in Ireland, the hour-long film reveals the anguish of the search, along with the coping mechanisms of “the coastguard family”.

And according to the producers, the documentary also reveals the dangers of the job and how they stay on the right side of risk.

Produced and directed by Darina Clancy for Midas Productions, Tabú: An Garda Cósta - Ár n-Insint Féin broadcasts Wednesday 4 March at 9.30pm on TG4.

Published in Coastguard

The Minister for Transport’s approval of a review of the Air Accident Investigation Unit’s draft final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has been described as “unprecedented” by the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) writes Lorna Siggins.

The pilots’ union has expressed concern that the delay in publishing the final Rescue 116 report and an imminent general election may set back “urgent reform” of Irish aviation regulation.

CHC Ireland has declined to comment on whether it sought the review, which is permitted under the Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents, Serious Incidents and Incidents) Regulations 2009.

It is the first time in the AAIU’s 25-year history that the review option has been sought before a final report is issued.

The helicopter company employed the four aircrew – pilots Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith – who died when their Sikorsky S-92A helicopter hit Blackrock island off north Mayo in the early hours of March 14th, 2017.

The bodies of Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith remain missing, in spite of extensive searches.

The Department of Transport said it could not confirm which “party” requested the review, as reported in The Sunday Times today here.

CHC said it “continues to engage fully with the investigation and remain committed to complying with our obligation to avoid commenting on any aspect of the final report”.

CHC Ireland is holder of the 500 million euro Irish Coast Guard search and rescue contract, which is due to expire in 2022 – though an extension could be allowed to 2025- and work has already begun on preparing a new tender.

The Department of Transport confirmed that arrangements are being made for the review of the draft final report, which was released to interested parties last autumn for comment within 60 days.

The AAIU does not seek to apportion liability or blame, but lack of oversight by the Irish Aviation Authority and management failures by the Irish Coast Guard and CHC have already emerged as factors.

The preliminary report published in April 2017 identified faulty navigation systems and incorrectly fitted satellite locator beacons on the lifejackets of the two pilots.

The Dublin-based crew had been tasked to provide “top cover” support to the Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter for a medical evacuation off the west coast.

Stakeholders were informed on January 8th of a delay in publishing the final report, when the AAIU confirmed that an “interested party” “had “served written notice of re-examination on the Minister for Transport...on specific findings and conclusions contained in the draft final report”.

Regulation 15 (1) of the Air Navigation Regulations 2009 allows for a re-examination of “any findings and conclusions in that report that appear to reflect adversely on the person’s reputation or on the reputation of any person, living or dead, whose executor, administrator or other representative he or she is”.

The report’s delayed publication, along with an anticipated general election, means legislation which would transfer air navigation functions from the IAA to a new Irish Air Navigation Authority is in danger of “sliding down the legislative agenda”, Ialpa president Capt Evan Cullen said this weekend (sat).

“This Bill includes vital reforms to aviation regulation which are essential to bring Ireland into line with European aviation safety norms,”Capt Cullen said, calling on the Government to make it a priority.

Capt Cullen noted that the Minister for Transport had committed as far back as August 2015 to restructure the regulatory functions of IAA, but progress had been “protracted”.

The IAA currently has a “conflict of interest” in holding a safety mandate for regulatory oversight while it also “makes money out of the same entities that it regulates”, he said.

“The aviation industry in Ireland should be a cause of pride. However, Ireland’s aviation regulator remains an outlier in terms of its corporate structure,” Capt Cullen said.

“ The framework of the IAA is so outdated it is undermining Ireland’s reputation for upholding safety standards. This needs to be urgently addressed,” he said.

“Once this bill is initiated, we urge the party whips in the Dáil and Seanad to commit to agreeing to prioritise the passage of the bill so as to facilitate its enactment in advance of the general election,” Capt Cullen said.

The chair of the review board for the AAIU’s final draft report must be a barrister or solicitor of no less than ten years’ standing or a person who, in the minister’s opinion, has “aeronautical or engineering knowledge or other special knowledge or experience of air navigation or aviation”.

The review will be held in private, with the applicant given 21 days’ notice. A report is then compiled for the minister if the re-examination proceeds.

For more, read The Sunday Times here

Published in Rescue
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TheJournal.ie is reporting along with other news outlets that a teenage girl has died after getting into difficulty swimming off a Co Louth beach yesterday (friday 28 June).

The 14-year-old girl was reportedly pulled out to sea by a rip current while swimming off a beach in Termonfeckin, north-east of Drogheda.

A winch man from the Irish Coast Guard’s Rescue 116 helicopter recovered the girl from the water and she was airlifted from the beach to hospital in Drogheda, where she was later pronounced dead.

Onlookers at the beach shared their distress over the incident with the Irish Independent.

Published in News Update
Tagged under
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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